Britons shunned shops to watch royal wedding, says John Lewis

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle during their wedding service Windsor, Britain May 19, 2018. Owen Humphreys/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s royal wedding dented sales at department store group John Lewis last week, as customers chose to watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get married on television instead of go shopping.

The couple, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, tied the knot on Saturday at Windsor Castle, in a splendid display of pomp and ceremony watched by almost 18 million viewers, making it the most watched program of the year so far.

John Lewis, Britain’s largest department store group, reported a 6.3 percent drop in sales in the week to May 19 compared to the same week last year, which it put down to warm weather and “customers turning their attention to the weekend’s celebrations.”

John Lewis’s supermarket arm Waitrose fared better, posting a 3.2 percent rise in weekly sales, as people celebrated the wedding with rose wine, champagne and seasonal bouquets of peonies.

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton